Not long ago I gave high praise to E.R. Punshon’s first Bobby Owen mystery, Information Received. Death Among the Sunbathers is the second book in the series, and to speak frankly I was a little disappointed in it. However, I have reason to believe the series will find its feet again in the third book.
Despite its sensationalist title, Death Among the Sunbathers isn’t a racy story featuring a lot of naked people running about. The fictional sun-worshiping organization featured here is a pretty mild one where most of the members wear something like bathing suits most of time.
In this story, a young female newspaper reporter is murdered in an engineered automobile accident, and Superintendent Mitchell, whom we know well from Information Received, is on the scene in the victim’s last moments. This motivates him to give special attention to this crime. Bobby Owen, now promoted to Detective, is in the story, but mostly off stage. He dogs the criminals unseen, until they come to fear him as an inexorable, almost superhuman Nemesis.
This approach, in my opinion, doesn’t work as well as the amusing mentor/mentee relationship established between him and Superintendent Mitchell in the first book. Without that magic, the narrative here seems theatrical and artificial.
Also I figured out the Big Surprise well before the author revealed it.
But I shall press on with the series, in hopes that balance will be restored in the next installment.